Oral COVID Antiviral Drug Currently in Development

Oral COVID Antiviral Drug

A key finding on the similarity between Hepatitis C and COVID-19 leads to a development of a low-dose, oral COVID antiviral drug based on FDA-approved hep C drugs

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) granted $3.5 million to a develop low-dose, oral COVID antiviral drug that can be administered at home. 

In research published in Cell Reports, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers team lead by professors Gaetano Montelione and Christopher Cioffi found that, out of the 10 hepatitis C drugs tested, seven suppressed the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The reason why it happened, the team discovered, is that a key protein from the hepatitis C virus closely resembles the coronavirus CLpro protease structure. 

“Our role in the project is to develop novel inhibitors of the two key proteases of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, called CLpro and PLpro, which are essential to the virus life cycle,” said Dr. Montelione.

“By hitting both CLpro and PLpro simultaneously, there is less likelihood of antiviral resistance,” he added.

The Rensselaer team will collaborate on the oral COVID antiviral drug project with Drs. Sumit Chanda and Arnab Chatterjee of Scripps Research Institute, Dr. Adolfo Garcia-Sastre of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Dr. Stefano Ciurli of the University of Bologna, Italy.

Industry partners will provide valuable resources to accelerate their movement through the product development pipeline. It is important to remember that drugs that are already FDA-approved for treating different diseases may be approved quicker for the treatment of COVID-19, as well. Nevertheless, the  grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is expected to span the next 5 years.